Fading Suns and Flaming Heresies
The existence of psychic powers was a mystery in the twentieth century. During the Second Republic, the mystery was explained: humanity’s potential to awaken phenomenal powers with the mind were well-known and documented. Psychic powers became the premier science of the Second Republic, the prestigious profession to which all geniuses turned their faculties. The central forum for this profession was the Phavian Institute, where the “mental sciences” of telepathy, psychokinesis, ESP and other phenomena were widely studied by many experts.
But the Fall changed all that.
Psychic powers, as with technology, were considered by the Church to be one of the causes of humanity’s troubles. Unlike theurgy, psychic powers are intensely personal and internal; one can develop one’s own powers without the aid of a teacher or — more dangerous — a doctrine. In addition, the common folk who did not possess psychic powers resented those who did. A psychic “next step in evolution” movement made this worse, painting non-psychics as evolutionary footdraggers. Hence, the Phavian Institute was disbanded and psychics became the targets of Inquisitorial witchhunts. These hunts did not stop psychic powers from developing, but it drove some psychics underground. Others, those who were faithful, bought the Church line that their powers were sinful. Many anguished people, in the grip of their Urges, committed suicide rather than face sin. Others fell on the Church’s mercy, begging aid and forgiveness. The Church accepted many of these repentant psychics and indoctrinated them with a code of behavior when using their powers. These became the Penitents.
Other psychics ran to the League for protection, hoping the republican sentiment would get them some mileage. It did. The League began a psychic guild and for years resisted the Church’s protests. But the Church won out and the guild was disbanded, leaving psychics with no formal protection. While the Church can hassle League or house psychics, they cannot formally reprimand them. But psychics without the protection of guild membership or royal title must hide from the Inquisition. Thus the covens were formed.
Paths: Psychic powers come in “paths”, which means that a character chooses a path and must buy each level consecutively. A psychic with Sixth Sense cannot buy Darksense (level 2) unless she has first bought Sensitivity (level 1). Each path has a range of levels, generally from 1-10, although some do not have lowers levels (see Omen).
Most paths have more than one power per level. Only one representative power is given per level in the examples below. Also, the tenth levels are not revealed here, as they are far beyond the ken of beginning characters.